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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS October 22, 2001

First Internet-Age Conflict

WOLF BLITZER: The war against terrorism is the first major conflict of the Internet age. Joie Chen rejoins with us once again with a very plugged-in guest. Joie.

CHEN: A lot of us have turned into news junkies by what happened on September 11, and since that time. One confessed news junkie is Josh Quittner, managing editor of "On" magazine. You may also have seen his articles about technology in "TIME" magazine. His latest column for "TIME": what he has been doing with his time, mainly surfing the web for more information.

Josh, I want go through some of the sites that you have pointed out as being of particular interest to. One of them, "the view as seen by the Pentagon" is the DOD -- the Department of Defense's site. Isn't that really just a mouthpiece for the Pentagon?

JOHN QUITTNER, MANAGING EDITOR, "ON MAGAZINE:" It's a mouthpiece for the Pentagon, I suppose, but the big buzzword when people started to publish on-line was disintermediation, which is just a fancy way of saying get rid of the middleman. What's great about the Pentagon site is it's all the raw information from the Pentagon.

CHEN: From the horse's mouth.

QUITTNER: Exactly. If you wanted to see transcripts of press releases, you can quickly zip through there and get the good stuff without having to sit through the rest of it.

CHEN: Here is another quick one. STRATFOR.com. We have seen these folks a lot on CNN. They are guests with us frequently on CNN. But don't you have be a subscriber to get the good stuff off their site?

QUITTNER: You have to be a subscriber to get the really deep, intense stuff, but to cruise through the thing, there is plenty of great information that is free that's available to anybody that clicks by. There are terrific position papers on the Middle East and what's going on there.

CHEN: You spent a lot of time at this site. It is DEBKA.com. If we take a look at their full screen, here, their motto is: "We start where the media stops." That's right at the top of their page. A lot of this stuff is kind of -- how shall we say it -- on the edge, there.

QUITTNER: Right. A little bit dicey. I would take this particular site with a gigantic grain of salt. However, for real news junkies it's definitely a major stop along the information highway. There is all sorts of stuff there that is probably nothing more than rumor, but it's still very interesting to read nonetheless.

CHEN: One of the things I see on their site today: "Chinese combatants with Taliban reported killed in Afghanistan." I mean, I haven't heard that someone else so I can't say that it's absolutely not true.

QUITTNER: No, I know. But a lot of this stuff sometimes has the ring of truth and it's just interesting to scan it.

CHEN: How would you compare it to anything else we might more commonly see in the United States?

QUITTNER: To me DEBKA is like The Drudge Report was during the Clinton scandal. It's a place that everybody who is interested in this stuff sort goes by and reads, but takes with a giant grain of salt.

CHEN: Not me as a reporter but me as a normal person, as a viewer, am I missing something if I don't check sites like this?

QUITTNER: Everyone has to make their own decisions. Everyone has to find their own level of comfort with information. I can't get enough information. I find virtually everything I read endlessly fascinating and I would happy to do nothing but read about this staff all the time.

CHEN: Fortunately you get paid to do that, Josh.

QUITTNER: Exactly.

CHEN: Josh Quittner. He is managing editor of "On Magazine." You can see him write in "Time Magazine." If you want to see this particular column that Josh has written about sites that he has been looking at, Wolf, it is at time.com. That's our sister on the web, time.com. You will see it there.

You will find Josh Quittner's latest column on what he is doing with his time. It is certainly full of lot of additional information on that, Wolf. One that I particularly liked is globalsecurity.org. Folks who wants to take a look at some of the stuff we are looking at here on CNN.


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